Final Fantasy VII: Remake

I cannot believe this game was worth the wait. The original Final Fantasy VII is one of my all-time favorite video games. It felt like a game that was mine even though it’s one of the most popular video games ever released on the original PlayStation, which itself is one of the most popular consoles of all-time. It’s not a niche title. But I followed its development in gaming magazines, and because my PlayStation belonged to me and not my brother (unlike our Super Nintendo, which we had to share), Final Fantasy VII felt like my game. I got lost in its story and characters and gameplay and I’ve played it through multiple times and purchased it on multiple consoles.

There were rumblings of a remake since the early 2000s when Final Fantasy VII was used as demo fodder, and over the years Square-Enix has kept the property alive with sequels and spinoffs like Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, and Crisis Core. But what the fans really wanted was Final Fantasy VII: Remake–a game that would give them the Final Fantasy VII story they loved but with the polish of modern graphics since FF7 was rendered with blocky, cartoonish character models due to the technical limitations of the programming. Final Fantasy VII: Remake was officially announced in 2015 and it was finally released on April 10, 2020. Or, should I say, the first episode was released, since Square-Enix decided the game would be too massive to release in a single installment.

Now that I’ve beaten it, I’m kind of in awe of what Square-Enix and the developers accomplished. Without spoiling anything, Final Fantasy VII: Remake walks the line between a trip down memory lane and a completely new experience. It’s a “remake” in the sense typically reserved for movies–they took the original story and used it as a launching point for a new adaptation. This isn’t just a remaster or polished graphics. This is artistically a new and daring thing. Even the things that comically don’t work (looking at you, Barret’s character and dialogue) still kind of work and are part of that original Final Fantasy VII charm. Throughout my time playing Final Fantasy VII: Remake, I kept wondering: okay, when is this going to fall off the rails? When’s the inevitable disappointment? Instead, I was intrigued every step of the way.

Is it a “perfect” game? That’s hard to say. I’ll put it this way: I really have no interest in trying to conquer it on the harder difficulties (I beat it on Easy because I wanted to enjoy it for the story) because that’s not the kind of video game I enjoy. I don’t like working to become good at video games. And if I can’t beat the game on hard, I’ll never collect all the trophies, so do I really want to go back and just do more combat stuff? The combat is solid for what it is; I’m very impressed at how they mixed action-RPG fighting with menu-based combat. But do I really want more of that? How many Final Fantasy VII: Remake trophies do I want to get when I know that hard would be a serious uphill climb? And yet part of me is tempted to do it! I had so much fun with this game that I’m a little hungry for more and the only things that are kind of pushing me away are 1) If the hard difficulty makes the game not that fun; 2) Thinking about all the other games in my backlog. So that’s kind of what I’m toying with right now, but based on my first play-through, I loved Final Fantasy VII: Remake. It can’t replace the special place I have for the original, but it surpassed my highest expectations.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 videogames

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